Director Ogawa sublimely cracks Mamet's code

Nov 20, 2013

Director Ogawa sublimely cracks Mamet's code

First impressions can, of course, be deceiving, but mine of 65-year-old David Mamet’s play “The Cryptogram,” whose world premiere was at the Ambassadors Theatre in London in 1994, was simply how unhelpful and knotty a work it was. In light of its title, perhaps ...

Theater of protest boosts rising new hub

Nov 6, 2013

Theater of protest boosts rising new hub

Ikebukuro boasts Tokyo’s second-busiest rail station after Shinjuku, and until recently it was just a transport hub people passed through between their jobs in the city and homes in suburbs to the north. Latterly, though, things have been changing in this once nondescript, somewhat ...

Festival/Tokyo pushes a return to storytelling

Oct 31, 2013

Festival/Tokyo pushes a return to storytelling

In 2009, when Festival/Tokyo took over from the annual Tokyo International Arts Festival, it burst forth with the slogan “Towards a New Real” and the resolve to stamp the city’s name on the global arts map. Back then the aim was to refresh the ...

Fraught reunions

Oct 23, 2013

Fraught reunions

Her long-term boyfriend’s death spurs concert pianist Charlotte into visiting her eldest daughter Eva, from whom she’s been estranged for seven years. At Eva’s house she also meets Helena, her severely disabled other daughter whom she had confined to a hospital for life, but ...

'Edward II': The director's take

Oct 16, 2013

'Edward II': The director's take

Two years ago, Shintaro Mori made his directorial debut at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, with a minimalist production of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece “Waiting for Godot.” Now, at age 37, he’s back there at the helm of probably one of the West’s first-ever ...

It doesn't have to be all true to be the life of Akihiro Miwa

Sep 18, 2013

It doesn't have to be all true to be the life of Akihiro Miwa

“Miwa has carried on being a true monster (kaibutsu), whereas many amazingly talented freaks have gone back to looking and behaving normally after enjoying a brief boom in popularity,” said dramatist Hideki Noda at a press conference last month for “Miwa,” his play based ...

Japan's love affair with Chekhov

Aug 29, 2013

Japan's love affair with Chekhov

“I have rarely seen a great production of any Chekhov play in Japan. Sometimes, I’ve even wanted to ask how they managed to make them so tedious.” Mansai Nomura, one of the country’s leading kyōgen (traditional comedy) actors, may say this with a wry ...

Jeté-ing from ballet to kitchen-sink drama

Aug 14, 2013

Jeté-ing from ballet to kitchen-sink drama

Though she’s moved from elegant arabesques to doing the washing up, former prima ballerina Tamiyo Kusakari is stealing the show in “Ani Kaeru (The Older Brother Returns),” a kitchen-sink drama playing every night through Sept. 1 at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in Ikebukuro. For renowned ...

Ninagawa's golden oldies reach a whole new stage in life

Aug 10, 2013

Ninagawa's golden oldies reach a whole new stage in life

“After a performance at the 232-seat Maison de la Culture du Japon in Paris, one of the Japanese staff there said I had a ‘splendid voice.’ I didn’t buy anything in Paris, but that was the best possible souvenir,” said Kiyoshi Takahashi, 85, the ...